Loyal and stubborn heroes: the main character’s personality in Classic Hollywood cinema
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Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Valverde-Maestre, A.M. (Águeda María); Pérez-Rufí, J.P. (José Patricio). "Loyal and stubborn heroes: the main character’s personality in Classic Hollywood cinema". Communication & Society. 35 (1), 2022, 151 - 161
This research aims to analyze the main characters’ construction in classic Hollywood cinema by focusing on their personalities. This work follows Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson’s notions of classic cinema. The sample includes films from 1930 to 1960. Character is understood as personality and as a psychological unit. Characterization is defined by each trait that refers to the totality of their character. We start with the hypothesis that there are central tendencies for creating heroes and heroines in classic cinema. However, these tendencies also correspond with the film narrative model, which is shaped by the functionality of the narrative categories in the story. Personality is among those factors that shape the construction of the character. We applied a methodology of film narrative analysis to a sample of 64 films from six extensive genres in classic Hollywood cinema. The results confirm that the main character in classic cinema is conditioned and shaped by their adaptation to the film’s genre. The hero is usually positive according to what is considered socially acceptable values; the dramatic needs of the plot predetermine their definition. The Hollywood main character’s personality is based on their functionality as they serve the narrative needs of the story.

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